By Matthew Kuju
The Council of Chiefs in Nasarawa State has now been reconstituted.
Hitherto, the Council was composed of only the most senior Traditional Rulers from the Local Government and Developments Areas of the State.
The new Council now has all the graded Chiefs from the State whereby they meet at least twice a year to consider issues of common interest for the development of the State.
This was disclosed by the Chairman of the Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs and Emir of Lafia, Hon Justice Sidi Bage in an interview with Eggonnews at his palace, Lafia recently,
According to him, although the law for the composition of the Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs has not been changed, however the traditional rulers in the State have agreed among themselves and conceded to a suggestion made by him to enlarge the Council to comprise all the graded chiefs in the State.
Explaining the rationale for the enlargement, the revered traditional ruler said: “In fact I have been advocating for having a general council. What I mean is that the Council of Chiefs as it is composed today, it is not every chief that is a member of the traditional council in the State. The law provides for those traditional rulers are in the Local Governments Headquarters.
“The most senior traditional ruler in the Local Government headquarters is automatically a member of the traditional council of the State. And also the most senior traditional ruler in the Development Area is also a member of the traditional council of the State.
“So, we have the number of the Local Governments that we have and the number of the Development Areas that we have are those that constitute the traditional council of chiefs in the state.
“Believe me, left to me, and when I came in and saw it, I said, why not abolish this and let all the graded chiefs in the State be the members of the traditional council? And my reason is quite simple. You may be leaving out people that are wonderful and have brilliant ideas, very brilliant ideas that may help the State and help the Council. And because they are not the most senior in either Local Governments or the Development Areas, they are out. And their voices may not being heard.
“So, I insisted. And when the matter came in the Council, I stood my ground and I said I would want to see a situation where all of us will gather in one place to discuss always. When there is an issue that we want to discuss, before we forward that to the government as advisers of the government and the custodians of our traditions and the people, let us come together as one.
“I am happy to say that the council of chiefs in Nasarawa State graciously said okay, we understand what you are thinking and talking about. Let us do it this way. Let us have at least twice in a year, meetings of all; so that all of us will come together. Let us come together and put our ideas together.
“You cannot underrate a person; sometimes we have very brilliant people that can bring wonderful ideas that can bring progress and the agenda set by development to the State.
“They said alright, no problem, all of us will be coming together. And now we have agreed that all us will come together at least twice in a year to discuss and then forward to the government.
“So, I think this is one of our achievements. Now we can bring every one of us together to discuss; I don’t want to see anyone left out. Once you are a graded chief, we want your voice, you should be heard, because you represent the voice of your people. And there may be things that are peculiar to you, which we need to hear them from the horse’s mouth. If we say that after meeting
“We said that, instead of the system where, after the meeting with the most senior person in the Local Government, he will then go back and call meeting of other chiefs in the Local Government, and he will say things that are peculiar to you and things that are peculiar to your Local Government to see how you can relate those things to the government.
“It passes through somebody before it gets to the council of chiefs. We may not have it all. But when we have the discussion together and hear direct from the horse’s mouth, we can achieve a lot.
“So these are some of those things that I am very happy that we have been able to reach out. I thank all the members of the council for graciously accepting that, that all of us can come together at least twice in a year and meet as one council and take resolutions as one council and pass them over to the government.
“It may not be that, that has now qualified or made like a law as the composition of the council. But we have broadened the body to come together at least to give our contributions to the development of the State.
“I think am very, very happy for that. It is a happy development. In the course of time, I know that once we start meeting, and we are coming together, it will take over from the other Council
“I think in a nutshell the traditional rulers in the State are people that you can be proud of. They are highly educated and with high sense of responsibility.
“So if anybody has any misgiving that anyone of us is not living up to expectation, I think it is left to the judgment of that individual.
“But on the whole, what you see as the reflection of the people is as the result of the traditional rulers living up to the expectation.”